McKenzie: Winning special teams battle key to Habs victory

Bob McKenzie
5/20/2010 11:05:53 PM
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Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Thursday.

A big reason why the Montreal Canadiens were able to come through with a win in Game 3 against the Philadelphia Flyers is because they were able to win the special teams battle.

After giving up four power play goals to the Flyers in the first two games in Philadelphia, the Canadiens responded in a big way at home. 

In the early going, Ryan O'Byrne in just his first game of the series flips the puck over the boards for a delay of game penalty.  This could have been critical if the penalty killers for the Habs had not performed so well.  If the Flyers had been able to break down the Montreal penalty kill then that would have been a huge momentum builder for the Flyers.

In the second period when Maxim Lapierre was given a slashing penalty the Canadiens penalty killers came up huge again and did the job on home ice that they were unable to do in Philadelphia.

The Flyers power play was 0-for-2 in critical situations.  And in the third the Canadiens were able to put the game away on a power play of their own as if to make sure the Flyers knew who won the special teams battle on the night.

That should be a big factor moving forward because the Habs special teams were just awful in the first two games of this series.

If we've seen anything from the Flyers so far in these playoffs it is this.  They have a great deal of composure and have responded well to adversity, just ask the Boston Bruins.  I'm sure that the Flyers will not be rattled by this but the Canadiens deserve full credit for the victory.  They did not chase the game, they let the game come to them and after scoring the first goal it was the Flyers who were chasing the game and losing their composure.

Big Hole in the Lineup

In Ryane Clowe the San Jose Sharks possess a poor man's version of Dustin Byfuglien

He's a big guy who goes to the net hard.  Unlike Big Buff, Clowe has not been heard from in this series so far. 

In the first couple of series, Clowe was a force on the boards.  He cycles the puck well, he protects the puck well.  He gets pucks as well as his big body on the net.  His line with Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski were a real factor early in the Detroit series, but they have barely been heard from since.

The speed issue may be a factor.  Clowe is not the fastest guy in the world but for him to be effective he needs to get to the other team's net and needs to get there in more ill humour then he has been so far.

Bob McKenzie


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